Hello all, the Historian here with our last story wrapup of the season! But first, a little treat courtesy of the Doctor Who Interview Archive: an interview with William Hartnell that would have appeared during the time between the airing of “Prisoners of the Consergierie” and “Planet of the Giants.” In other words, right where we are now! (By the by, a definite TARDIS Project recommendation for the Interview Archive. Check it out!)
So, on to “The Reign of Terror,” the season closer that wasn’t meant to be. As detailed in the story’s production page at the “A Brief History of Time (Travel)” site, “Reign” was intended to be the first story of the show’s second season. But when Doctor Who was renewed (apparently it was close to a last minute decision for the production team), the decision was made to push this story back and have a shorter than planned break between the first and second season. Luckily, this reshuffle didn’t affect the actual production, since the first production block was scheduled to continue through the following two serials.
So, “Reign” closing things out for season one was a bit of an accident, but also proof that sometimes accidents can be fortuitous. Although the last scene of “The Sensorites” (written and recorded before the change in scheduling was finalized, presumably) sums up the season pretty well, plotwise, “The Reign of Terror” does a far better job of touching on and summing up many of the character themes of the season. It’s also a stronger story than its predecessor, I think, better written and with a wider scope for the regulars. It’s also a Historical (which, to our surprise, have turned out to be the stronger stories of the season; more about that another time) and one written by the man who would be taking over as story editor for the second production block. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s a great story!
“Reign” is also one of the stories from this season that neither Ketina nor I had seen, due to its “incomplete” status. Thankfully, I was able to get my hands on a reconstruction of the missing two episodes–and so can you, if you go to the “Reign of Terror” page at the Loose Cannon Productions recon site. (You can also find out a bit about how they put the two recon episodes together too.)
As usual, here is a link to the official BBC episode guide for the story. As with “Marco Polo,” it’s more than a shame that we don’t have a complete set of episodes so “The Reign of Terror” can be accessible to more fans. This story, ultimately, is an overlooked gem and a wonderful way to end an amazing first season of the series. The (presumably rewritten, after the schedule change) final few lines, where we pull out to a starscape, sums up the endless possibilities of adventure that Doctor Who holds:
DOCTOR: Our lives are important, at least to us. But as we see, so we learn.
IAN: And what are we going to see and learn next, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Well, unlike the old adage, my boy, our destiny is in the stars, so let’s go and search for it.
COMING SOON: The season one wrapup post! I hope to have it done before Friday, but I’m also hoping to get some more input from other Project crew members…and you! Was there anything in particular that stood out for you, good or bad? Either in the season (for those of you who’ve seen every episode, like our anonymous survey commenter) or in our coverage of it? Let us know, either in a comment at our survey post or via e-mail to tadisproject at gmail dot com. (And, yes, tadis.) I’ll try to incorporate as much of the feedback as I can, though I’m still not sure how the post will come together.
Until then, I remain